Waiting for Othniel
September 10, 2019, 11:48 AM

The last few years I have been fortunate to be able to take a group of pre-teen students to camp. One of my favorite things to do during free time is fishing in the pond. I enjoy fishing but seldom get the chance to do it. Since I don’t fish very often, I’m not that good at it. Not only do I not catch very many fish, I usually spend more time making a mess of the line than actually fishing. There was a time this past summer when we were fishing at camp that I somehow created what is known as a “bird’s nest” in the fishing line. Now, this wasn’t the first time I had done this but this time I was determined to fix it on my own. It was so hot that day and I was sweating profusely and swatting at mosquitos the size of half-dollars all while trying most unsuccessfully to untangle the mess I had created. Finally, after spending a good 30-45 minutes in my vain attempt, I called out to my friend Ronnie who is an avid fisherman. See, I was determined to not ask for help because I didn’t want anyone to know I had messed up and my pride said I could fix it on my own. As he approached me, he jokingly scolding me for making such a big mess and lovingly laughed at my ineptitude. So much for my pride. He showed me grace and took time away from his fishing to help me. To add to my shame and frustration, it took Ronnie all of about 37 seconds to fix what I had spent nearly an hour working on and had only seemed to make worse. Before he went back to fishing he told me next time to let him know so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time suffering with it.

I was reminded of that principle recently while studying in the Book of Judges. The Israelites had started well in the journey of conquering the Promised Land, but not long after Joshua died, the people began to drift away from the Lord. Judges 3:7 tells us that they had begun doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and turn to worship other gods. Because of their sin God sent an oppressor to punish them. Verse 8 says that the king of Aram Naharaim ruled over them for eight years. It was at this point the Israelites cried out to God and He sent them a deliverer, Othniel, to save them from this oppression.

I wondered, why the term of eight years? I thought of many scenarios that might be plausible, but in the end, one struck me in the heart. They didn’t cry out to God until after eight years. For whatever reason, they endured the consequences of their sin and broken relationship with God for eight years. This draws to my mind the prodigal son who, after a season of suffering because of poor choices, came to his senses and headed back toward his father. Too many times people try to fix things on their own or get caught up in worry about what other people may say. This causes them to forget about the grace of God that is waiting for the cry for help.

If this is you, simply stop right now and cry out to God for help. God uses circumstances to accomplish His purpose in the lives of people and sometimes that purpose is to drive them back to Him. Don’t keep trying to fix things on your own, you’ll only wind up making them worse. Confess your sin, repent, and cry out to God for your deliverer to come and set you free from the oppression of sin. Othniel set the people free for a period of 40 years, Jesus can set you free for eternity.